53

Landfill Gas Recovery Systems

owned or operated by Waste Connections

32.5

Billion Standard Cubic Feet

of landfill gas is converted annually at Waste Connections facilities

11.7%

of Waste Connections’ routed trucks run on alternative fuel

View Our Analysis

The Path to Drawdown: Landfill Gas

Although CO2 is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, methane has 34 times the greenhouse effect of CO2 over the course of a century. And the biggest source of methane are landfills, accounting for some 12% of total global methane emissions.

Methane comes from the organic matter in landfills like food scraps, yard trimmings, junk wood, and waste paper. The decomposition of this waste produces biogas, a roughly equal mix of carbon dioxide, methane, and small amounts of other gases.

As diets change, waste is reduced, and recycling and composting grow, we’re hopeful that landfill waste as a whole will diminish. But for now, as the modern way of life continues and organic matter in landfills continues to decompose, landfills and landfill methane emissions keep growing.

The way to manage this is landfill methane capture - the process of capturing methane generated from anaerobic digestion of municipal solid waste in landfills and incinerating the captured biogas to generate electricity. The benefits of this solution are twofold: it captures methane from landfills that’s far worse for global warming, and it replaces conventional electricity-generating technologies like coal, oil, and natural gas power plants.

Currently, the methane that’s captured is enough to generate 33.1 TWh of electricity, or 0.13% of total electricity generated worldwide. In the best-case scenario for 2050, landfills wouldn’t exist, and integration and waste feedstock availability would mean a net greenhouse gas sequestration, rather than emission. In a less ideal scenario, 70% of the world’s landfills will have adopted methane capture, and they help reduce 2.2 gigatons of CO2e between 2020 and 2050

What We Want to See Improve

Stop Accepting Waste From Fossil Fuel Companies

Waste Connections serves oil and natural gas exploration and production companies (p. 10) by treating, recovering, and disposing of their waste. These services enable the survival of the fossil fuel industry, which goes against Waste Connections’ purported sustainability commitments. We urge them to stop providing these services to gas and oil companies.

Reduce Absolute GHG Emissions

We applaud Waste Connections for setting clear and concrete sustainability goals and setting aside a budget of $500 million (p. 12) to achieve these targets. But we want them to go further by reducing their absolute GHG emissions. Their total emissions have grown by ~28.9% between 2017 and 2019. In absolute terms, that’s an increase of 507,000 metric tons of CO2e, the equivalent to carbon emissions from 61,055 homes’ energy use in one year. We urge them to begin reducing their emission, instead of simply increasing offset or reducing their carbon intensity.

Adopt Zero-Emission Vehicles Faster

As part of their effort to increase offsets to emissions by 50%, Waste Connections anticipates (p. 17) taking delivery of fully electric collection trucks for beta testing. We cannot urge this initiative strongly enough and call on Waste Connections to adopt electric vehicles and vehicles that run purely off their captured methane as soon as possible.

Related Methane Digester Stocks in the Climate Index

View All Climate Index Stocks →

Allocated Company Description

4.27%

Waste Management, Inc. (WM)

Waste Management collects waste and recyclable materials across North America and converts landfill gas to energy - a solution to methane emissions

2.26%

Waste Connections (WCN)

WCN collects waste and captures methane from a majority of their landfills. It’s a key alternative to methane emissions

0.28%

Casella Waste Systems (CWST)

Casella’s solid waste service converts methane from landfills into energy. It’s a much lower-emission alternative than releasing methane into the air

0.05%

Village Farms International, Inc. (VFF)

VFF captures methane from landfills, converts it into electricity, and sells it to a utility company. Methane capture is a key solution to reduce emissions

0.02%

Renovare Environmental, Inc. (RENO)

Renovare Environmental enables organizations to divert organic waste from landfill and instead turn it into fertilizer and fuel. They help reduce methane emissions

Attend Our Next Webinar

Attend Our Next Webinar

Join our next Sustainable Investing 101 webinar, get our favorite DIY options, and walk through how we build our portfolios.

Register
Get Our Newsletter

Get Our Newsletter

Go a level deeper with us and investigate the potential impacts of climate change on investments like your retirement account.

Talk To A Human

Talk To A Human

Joining a new investment service can be intimidating. We’re here for you. Click below to email us a question or book a quick call.

Ask a Question